The Mother I’ll Never Be.

September 5th, 2011

Photo courtesy Blogher

I’m delighted to be an inaugural contributor to BlogherMoms, curated by my sweet friend (and Blogher11 roomie) Stacy Morrison. This piece  was featured there last week. You can click on the syndication badge below to follow the discussion there.

I am a mother of boys. I own it, flaunt it, revel in it. It’s practically my brand. “I am the household goddess and queen bee,” I wrote in my book, in a chapter titled Penis Ennui.  I wouldn’t have it any other way, I tell people. Toilet seat battles notwithstanding.

When I read a blog post by a father struggling with princess culture, or a doctor offering advice on preparing girls for their first period, or hear my friend’s stories of their daughters’ latest schoolyard drama, I think, whew. Thank god I dodged that bullet. Girlhood is complicated. At least, mine was. I went through youthful feminine archetypes like a five-year-old changes costumes. I was a girly-girl, then a tomboy, then an ugly duckling (pecked at by the mean girls), then a “bad” girl (popular with the boys and men, not so much the girls and women). As an adult, I came to love women, but girls still scare me. I’m too damaged in my own girlhood to raise a daughter, I tell myself. It would open too many wounds.

But then I come across pictures of someone’s daughters goofing around in ringlets and ruffles, or a friend’s teen on her way to her first formal, or scroll past an instagram of a fierce little girl jumping through puddles in her pink shoes, and I feel something. Something between a twinge and a pang.

The secret truth is, I sometimes miss her–the daughter I’ll never have. Complications and all.  Wounds and all. Maybe opening them up would help them heal. Because I didn’t really dodge that bullet. It’s lodged in me.

Raising kids can be the most wonderful kind of do-over. In mothering my boys, I get to mother parts of myself that somehow got left behind in childhood. I’ve done a lot of growing up since becoming a parent. But there are places their boyhood can’t take me, places where the girl I was waits for the mother I’ll never be.

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8 Responses to “The Mother I’ll Never Be.”

  1. Greta Houston says:

    So very well said from one daughter-less Mother to another.

  2. Pat Hammond says:

    You’ll get another chance when a granddaughter arrives. I had 3 girls and sort of missed not having a son but then the grandsons were born. I adored them and probably appreciated them more than if I’d been their mother.

    • KyranP says:

      I don’t know…Patrick’s family hasn’t produced any female offspring in 100 years. I think they lost the recipe.

  3. Cid says:

    While I am not terribly close to my mother, I have great hopes for my future daughters-in-law. One of my boys must marry an orphan so that I can be the Mother of the Bride and the number one grandmother, that is all this MOB asks.

  4. Again, I love this. So very well sums up the feeling of missing…and of course I’m partial to that one gal in the fancy dress. 🙂

  5. Love the idea of that lodged bullet…I think we all have our bullets and they affect our mothering no matter if we have boys or girls. That said, I do find my personal baggage is heavier and more obvious with my daughter than with my sons.

  6. lomagirl says:

    It’s funny that you think boys are “easier.” I don’t. I worry about my sensitive son in ways I don’t worry about my daughter. She’s strong and independent. He’s more easily hurt. Yes, her friends hurt her, but I use my own experience to try and give her perspective on that.
    My husband thinks boys are easier, too, though. I think he thinks I fight too much with my daughter.

  7. Susan says:

    This is so well said that you’ve moved a chronic lurker to comment!

    I too am a daughter-less mother and I wish it didn’t make me sad but it does. I have often thought that I must be the most selfish person on earth to feel like I’ve grieved the loss of something I never had. I love my two boys with more than I knew possible, but I will always long for a bit of estrogen in this house!

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